The following post is from our friends at Caring Transitions.
The hardest part of preparing for what’s best for Mom or Dad is determining the right time to create a plan for aging-in-place or relocating. Whether your conversation with your parents is virtual or in-person, it’s essential to create a plan to clear the clutter before it’s a hazard or necessity. Finding a new home for your senior loved one’s belongings or helping them clear clutter, offers a host of benefits to encourage healthy aging like boosted mental clarity, lower stress levels, and lower risk of injury. The benefits can extend quality of life now and in the long run.
When should I discuss organizing and decluttering with my parents?
- If one or both of your parents are experiencing issues:
- Breathing- a clean, clear, decluttered home limits exposure to harmful allergens that have the potential to irritate respiratory issues and allergic reactions.
- Limited Mobility- an organized home can reduce the chances of household items being hazards. Items obstructing walking space or paths may increase the risk or slips, falls, and trips for you or anyone else in or visiting the home. Organizing and decluttering the home can keep the home safe.
- Immune System-a cleaner home is less likely to accumulate viruses, bacteria and fungi that could make them ill. You can protect them from harmful pathogens by streamlining their belongings and keeping the home clean.
- Live in a Larger Home- they may be reluctant to travel into a cluttered, dark, damp basement, attic or storage space. Sorting and organizing the items stored there can help your family take the reins on any harmful, disease carrying pest issues and, in many cases, allow you to assess home damage.
Now that my parents understand the risks, what is the best process to clear space?
Create a plan after assessing which rooms in the home need the most attention.
Experts at Clarity Wealth Development suggest the best way to start organizing is to “[a]ssess your [loved one]’s situation and put a plan together. Go through their home and identify potential problems. Is their attic, basement and/or garage overstuffed? Are their kitchen cabinets or pantry filled with expired cans of food?
Create a calendar or schedule.
AgingCare.com blog contributor Carol Bradley Bursack writes, a dedicated “calendar specifically used for keeping track of appointments, entertainment, respite care and other engagements concerning your loved one can be very helpful.”
If you happen to be tech-savvy, electronic calendar apps are available that “allow you to create entries for separate entities… Another benefit of going digital is the ability to share appointment information and availability with other care team members.”
Repair or remove any hazards or items stored on the floor and stairs.
It can be a bit more difficult to move as we age. Removing items like worn rugs, excess furniture, exposed cords, or any other objects that obscure a clear moving path is important. Experts at EverydayHealth.com recommend examining each “room and hallway, looking for items such as loose carpet, slippery throw rugs, or wood floorboards that stick up. Then repair, remove, or replace those items for more effective fall prevention.”
Be sure to keep the home bright and open.
According to the American Academy of Opthalmology, “seniors may have both a higher need for natural light and a harder time getting it than do younger people. A part of the natural light spectrum, called blue light, is important for our ability to maintain healthy bodily rhythms… like circadian rhythms or biorhythms.” Decluttering can open up a room and give a brighter lighter feel. Some suggest using brighter bulbs, hanging colorful artwork, or opening windows, curtains, and blinds to let more natural light in as well.
Give important items a very visible easy accessible home.
As we age, it may become more difficult to climb stairs, reach for an item, or bend and crouch down. Placing important items in conveniently organized spaces can make it simpler to access an item when it’s needed. Industry expert Sabrina Quairoli suggests placing stored items between waist and upper thigh height. This can be especially helpful with medications. It’s important to clear out expired medications and irrelevant prescriptions.
Designate a securely locked space for important documents
Keeping pertinent information, paperwork, and records well organized and readily available, is the key to simplifying and addressing daily tasks efficiently. Senior care experts at aplaceformom.com suggest having items readily available like “official records…as well as… copies of these important financial, legal and health documents can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of time spent tracking down records.”
Sort and store bills in a secure designated workspace.
Pulling financial information together is essential to tracking income, bills, and payments. Experts at AARP recommends you “sort quickly, putting like with like. Stacks may include documents, paid and unpaid bills, receipts, brokerage, pension and Social Security statements, medical expenses, contracts.” After sorting the items, organize the bills and other financial documents using a categorized binder or folders.
Decluttering and organizing your parents’ home may be a bigger task than you are able to handle. Knowing when to ask for help is the first step to successfully preparing Mom and Dad for relocation or aging-in-place. Caring Transition’s could save you weeks or months of time sorting through priceless belongings and items with immense sentimental value.
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